Dal Ja’s Spring
(Jan – Mar 2007)
who’s in it
Chae Rim (Powerful Opponents)
Lee MinKi (Really, Really Like You, Evasive Inquiry Agency)
Lee HyunWoo (Attic Cat)
Lee HyeYoung (Queen of Housewives)
Gong HyungJin (Chuno)
what’s it about
As the story goes…you’re standing at a crosswalk minding your own, waiting for the light to turn green (aren’t we all just waiting for that light to turn green?) when all of a sudden love comes flying out of nowhere to knock you off your feet—in Chae Rim’s case, however, it also knocks her to the pavement and breaks her cell phone. This whirlwind arrives in the form of angular, runway model-turned-actor Lee MinKi. Not a bad reason to fall at all, literally and figuratively. Mr. Mystery waltzes into her life, young and vibrant and critical of her insecurities, especially her hang-ups regarding her age and her unrealistic notions on love. For someone younger, it becomes immediately obvious that Lee MinKi’s got more life wisdom under his sneakers than his noona (older woman to younger man).
Chae Rim is a buyer for a home shopping network and pretty good at her job, and she’s worked hard to become so capable, but she remains unlucky in love due to her overly romantic sensibility. After falling for the charms of a coworker who turns out to be a major player, she becomes the butt of pitying office gossip, so she takes on Lee MinKi as a ‘fake boyfriend’ for a month to resuscitate her female pride. The real loveline tangle arises when she meets the CEO of a new brand they’re selling, a man she suspects may be “the man of her destiny”…but what about Lee MinKi? Is he really just her ‘spare tire’ or, dare she hope, something more?
How do you calculate love, by counting the years of your life or by the beats of your heart?
Chae Rim’s eyeliner…heh, just joking. Thick eyeliner and poofy hair aside, she’s adorable here as the prideful and determined thirty-something Oh Dalja still looking for that great romance that will sweep her off her feet. She had an obsession with her age and was quite the boy crazy woman, but surprisingly, Chae Rim was able to make this girl likable and not too pink and fluffy.
after the first episode
Even after only an hour, we really got a sense of who Chae Rim was playing. This was a girl who became a woman overnight and along the way, without her realizing it, she traded in a personal life for her job. She thought herself worldly but she was actually naïve, especially when it came to people and their motivations. As the popular refrain goes ‘a good deed never goes unpunished,’ her life was a lot like that, sometimes unlucky through no real fault of her own but due only to her desire to live earnestly. She tried hard [at everything] but her insecurities were the barriers she couldn’t seem to overcome. She was constantly sneaking glances around to see who was watching and how she was being judged. She was attractive and well-liked by her peers, but she didn’t see herself that way. She wanted love but didn’t believe she was worthy of it, not really. We know this because we were allowed to hear her inner dialogues via voiceovers. Basically, we had here an everywoman, someone we pitied and couldn’t wholly comprehend, but also a person we could not deny lives in all of us to some capacity.
The story was intent on focusing on Oh Dalja as a whole person, not just her love life, evidenced by the introduction of her family, friends and coworkers in an intelligent manner, not as passing bit players. They were as complicated as the lead. I liked it. This had a sly scent of something refreshing.
Not very many. Very entertaining and fast moving.
No, but man could this girl eat. She had a bottomless stomach! So impressive! I admire that kind of reckless gluttony in a human being when it comes to delicious Korean food. Oh, who am I kidding? In all foods!
what didn’t work
This is the section where I usually rattle off some of the more annoying side characters but in this case, I really adored all of them as much as I did Chae Rim. Well, maybe not all. Lee MinKi’s family was kind of annoying, truth be told, but they were supposed to be, so it’s all good, and they also developed as the show progressed, like everyone else in the drama.
I already mentioned Chae Rim, so I’ll talk about Lee MinKi here. He brought his usual charm, both confident and gawky at the same time. He does the ‘goofy but wise young man’ really well. He played a similar role in Really, Really Like You and did well there, too.
what made me want to gouge my eyes out
While Chae Rim looked her adorable self, that eyeliner and that hair was not all that fantastic. A less naturally gorgeous actress would not have been able to pull off this look.
what kept me going
Good storytelling, likable and varied characters…what else is there to want for in a kdrama?
hair and fashion It was ok.
is it worth trying to find?
total enjoyment factor
why this review is completely biased
Lee MinKi has a quality that is just watchable. He’s a pretty decent actor as well. AND most importantly, Chae Rim really pulled off this role.
could a non-kdrama fan like this
Maybe…perhaps the Bridget Jones fanbase.
The best part of this drama was the lack of conventional ‘villians.’ The point here was to have a discussion about relationships between people, the truth that everyone behaves the way they do for a reason and until you get to know someone, you really can’t judge them with any accuracy. Of course I enjoyed Chae Rim and Lee MinKi together as a couple, but the best parts of this drama were Chae Rim’s interactions with everyone else. Her growth as a character wasn’t limited to getting her man, but devotion for her mother and grandmother, and for her friends. It wasn’t about Dalja finding romantic love, it was about Dalja finding confidence in herself and through that, recognizing and learning that love for herself must come first, then eventually the rest would follow.